1plusV slaps Google with $420 million antitrust lawsuit

1plusV slaps Google with $420 million antitrust lawsuit

Summary: If the FTC probe weren't bad enough, French search company 1plusV has filed suit against Google, seeking around $420 million in damages for the search giant's alleged anticompetitive search ranking practices.


If the FTC probe weren't bad enough, French search company 1plusV has filed suit against Google, seeking 295 million Euros (around $420 million in USD) in damages for the search giant's alleged anticompetitive search ranking practices. It's the largest antitrust lawsuit Google's faced in Europe thus far.

Now, I don't understand French, so I'm relying on the Reuters interpretation of the widely-available press release. But it seems that 1plusV's complaint - combined with similar complaints from Microsoft and their European shopping site Ciao, and British price comparison site Foundem - has actually triggered an investigation into Google's business practices by the European Commission, similar to the probe it's facing here in the US.

The crux of 1plusV's lawsuit is that Google stifled efforts to develop "vertical" search engines that serve specific markets - such as 1plusV's own legal advice and search site Ejustice.fr. 1plusV says that it tried to develop businesses around 30 more vertical search engines between 2007-2010, but Google blacklisted them.

Basically, the problem is that 1plusV feels that Google is unfairly taking advantage of its market leadership to keep rivals down. 1plusV says that's shown by the fact that in order to access vital customers with their advertising, they had to pay to use Google AdSense, which is, itself, tied to Google's search engine.

Combine that with Google's alleged practice of providing first search results primarily to its own services, and 1plusV thinks it has a case. Google hasn't responded except to say that its looking forward to answering the question of how these practices help users in court.

Needless to say, if 1plusV's suit succeeds in the Paris Commercial Court where it was filed, we could start seeing many, many more of this type. In a similar situation with the European Commission, Microsoft had to pay some steep fines and readjust its European business, as did Intel. And that's putting aside all the smaller companies that may want a piece of Google.

With the legal pressure building at home and abroad, Google may be in for some rough times ahead.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Browser, Google, Government, Government US, Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: 1plusV slaps Google with $420 million antitrust lawsuit

    But, but, but. Everyone loves Google! They do no evil! Their motto is "Do No Evil", that alone should kill the suit!
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: 1plusV slaps Google with $420 million antitrust lawsuit

      @Cylon Centurion absurd... But but BING is decision engine... it's better than Google... so, why doesn't this company use bing instead...

      "I tried to succeed in Business, I failed... Google must pay me. :("
      • It's not what the company is using,

        its what Goolge's paying other to use.

        When searching on Android (via google integrated into the OS), Google stuff come out on tops, everytime, wherther it's fair or not.

        How fair is that to other companies trying to compete?
        Will Pharaoh
      • Exactly .. my business model failed

        their business model obviously had some holes in it. If you want to get ranked high on Google there are plenty of ways to do just that, in addition to ponying up some cash.
        Boo-hoo froggies...
    • Right!

      @Cylon Centurion
      If the suit has merit, it should go forward; if not, then the plaintiff should be fined, just like any other frivolous litigator. If the plaintiff's case is substantiated, then Google should be punished.

      Amazingly enough, it's possible to be in favor of antitrust laws and still believe that they should be enforced impartially.
      John L. Ries
  • this is stupid.

    Google is a business, the search engine is a service the business offers, why would a business recommend another business' competing services. Would you expect to go into a Toyota showroom, ask what they recommend for a good small car and have them say 'a mitsubishi'.
    Companies should be able to promote their own products or services without this crap coming up.
    • Well said @lwa83, but...

      Does Google have an obligation to serve its users with the content that is most relevant to their search query?

      If the answer is yes, then there could be some room for argument -- BUT THEN AGAIN, to my understanding, for their to be an anti-trust case, there has to be some monetary implications to switching services... whereas, any user has the CHOICE of which search engine, email service, or collaboration tools to use. The fact that all of those are free from Google makes it really hard to call them a monopoly (I'm no lawyer, just my understanding).
  • Jimmy Got Jacked says Right!

    I used to work with a NEW search engine called www.doodalie.com about 2 years ago, and had seen and expirenced basically the same thing. 2 years ago this company had finally reached 300,000 users per month and suddenly google blacklisted the site and totaly blocked users access, saying it was a badware or attack site, "Go to google." Doodalie's users were forced to go back to google; resulting in a loss for the company. Google should not have the POWER to decide who CAN and CAN NOT be on internet. This is a totalLy unfair practice and a very BAD and DANGEROUS case of MONOPLY. I still watch the company; Currently the company is having to rebuild for ground up because of being blacklisted by google also another division of the company was blacklisted. google has no right to intefere with other companies. If you want to help change power balance switch to www.doodalie.com give it a try.
    IT Blogger
  • RE: 1plusV slaps Google with $420 million antitrust lawsuit

    I observe this case. I think that there will be more and more companies like 1PlusV. I also have some troubles with my small service called <a href="http://www.kred.pl">kredyt hipoteczny</a>, but I hope that soon I will resolve the problems with Google.